Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor

On May 2, the Communication and Media department hosted an end of the year celebration where new degree options, a new computer lab and more were announced to be made available in the very near future.

Beginning in the 2019 fall semester, communication and media students will be offered a choice of emphasis area for their degree programs. The areas of emphasis include strategic communication, visual communication, interpersonal communication and mass communication. This allows students to focus their electives in the department in courses that gives them a specific emphasis.

“If [students] prefer, they can take any other combination of electives and be a generalist, but for students who know what they want to pursue after college or who are looking for guidance and structure, they can choose the emphasis area they like and be presented with a “menu” of electives to choose from,” Lara Zwarun, professor of communication and media, said.

The department also announced an accelerated degree program that could allow a University of Missouri–St. Louis student to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a much shorter time frame than is currently offered.

“We are also rolling out the 2+3, which is a 5-year program that enables students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communication in five years,” Zwarun said.

In order to do this, students must meet a set GPA requirement and identify their interest in this program early in their college career in order to get enrolled in the right classes.

“It will help them see a clear path to graduation, be able to show employers they have certain skill sets, and make the most of their time at UMSL,” Zwarun said. “In some cases, it might put graduate school on the radar of someone who never would have considered it before.”

During the event, attendees were also encouraged to check out the department’s new computer lab, located on the second floor of Lucas Hall.

“Being able to offer our students state-of-the-art software and hardware, and to have somewhere they can work on projects, is a huge benefit to us in recruiting majors and graduating well-trained employable graduates,” Zwarun said.

This is the second year the department has put on the event, with work on this year’s event beginning shortly after last year’s event was completed.

“The department has a Recruitment and Retention committee who conceived of the event last year, and we’ve basically been planning for this one ever since then, trying to incorporate what we learned from the first go-around,” Zwarun said. “We thought a lot about what would be fun and well received. We were hoping to send off our graduates, but also attract current, returning majors.”

The event was created to help bring the students and faculty members of the department together to hang out and celebrate the upcoming graduation.

“We are seeking to build more of a departmental culture, to bring students together, to celebrate them, and put faces to names since some students and faculty only know each other from online courses,” Zwarun said. It’s also a chance for faculty and adjuncts to spend time together. Sometimes schedules are such that we don’t see each other a lot.”

While the weather may have been dreary, members of the Communication and Media department showed up nonetheless to celebrate the end of another great semester with the faculty and students.

“We all had a lot of fun and a lot of cake!” Zwarun said. “Next year we hope even more people attend. I think the rainy weather may have kept some people home. We definitely had some great experiences—faculty and students meeting each other in real life, online students who have had classes together connecting in person, undergrads interested in hearing about our graduate degree and new 2+3 program.”